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March Madness: Sweet 16 runs

UCLA track and field enters NCAA championship with greater numbers, higher rankings

Junior distance runner Robert Brandt is one of four UCLA track and field athletes who will compete in more than one event at the 2019 NCAA championship – as he will compete in the 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)

By Peter Frederick

June 3, 2019 12:56 a.m.

The season will culminate in one weekend for track and field athletes across the nation.

The Bruins will send 20 athletes to compete in 16 events at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas. The group qualified for the most events since the 2009 season – UCLA qualified for 20 events that year.

“I’m excited by the way we are trying to perform at higher levels across the board,” said director Avery Anderson. “Some of the athletes who were here on the team when I got here now exist in a situation where they have a group around them, some new athletes and coaches, who are out here trying to get them to higher levels.”

Anderson was named the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association West Region Men’s Coach of the Year earlier this week. The No. 11 ranked men’s team qualified 15 athletes in 10 events, including redshirt junior distance runner Robert Brandt in the 5-kilometer, 10k, 4×100-meter relay and the 4x400m relay. The Bruins will also send redshirt senior thrower Dotun Ogundeji in the shot put and discus and senior thrower Justin Stafford in the hammer throw.

“I’m excited for the team and how many more people we have competing this year compared to last year,” said Stafford, who was one of seven Bruins to qualify for the championship last season. “It’s been amazing to see the growth our program has experienced since last year. Coach Anderson has done a phenomenal job in building our team.”

The No. 14 ranked women’s team qualified five athletes for six events, including sophomore thrower Alyssa Wilson, who qualified for the shot put, discus and hammer. The Bruins will also send senior sprinter Meleni Rodney in the 400m dash, redshirt senior pole vaulter Elleyse Garrett in the pole vault, redshirt senior thrower Ashlie Blake in the shot put and redshirt junior heptathlete Christina Chenault in the multis. Wilson was also named the USTFCCCA West Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year earlier this week.

“Coming into college I had to take a step back and realize that I was no longer the best in the country because I was the young freshman again,” Wilson said. “I’m finally getting more confident in my throws, my technique, and from my teammates and I’m just building on that.”

Wilson is one of four Bruins who will compete in multiple events this week. The others include redshirt senior sprinter Leon Powell in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays, Ogundeji in shot put and discus and Brandt in the 5k and 10k.

“At this point in the season, the tough work has been done in the winter and early spring,” Brandt said. “Now it’s just making sure I’m on my game at nationals and I think I’m on track to do that. I just need to make sure I’m healthy and ready to go.”

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Peter Frederick | Alumnus
Frederick joined the Bruin as a junior in 2017 and contributed until he graduated in 2019. He spent time on the cross country and track and field beats.
Frederick joined the Bruin as a junior in 2017 and contributed until he graduated in 2019. He spent time on the cross country and track and field beats.
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